Why is there a watermelon there?

Having My Baby - Theresa Ragan Sorry to say this was very 'meh' to me. I was looking for something silly and frothy and cute after reading more of the angsty stuff and this one was supposed to fit the bill. I want froth, but somehow remotely believable and relatable froth.

I mean, of course there had to be the suspension of belief going on--since when does an anonymous sperm donor get any rights so obviously this was going to be a bit of stretch. Too bad there were just too many other things adding up to a big 'not-working' rating.

Now the following is just me ranting a bit at some about what drove me crazy, so I'm hiding it under spoilers so no one has to read it.

Seriously, you think you can book an appointment with a new GYN and they won't have you fill out a history and medical release to review your records before walking in the room? Sneaking out the back? Just who is going to pay for that medically unnecessary visit? Your insurance company won't and if you were paying cash, well then sneaking out the back kind of makes it fraud.

Oh, and I'm sorry, did you just have the best nookie of your life 3 WEEKS AFTER GIVING BIRTH VAGINALLY???? I really had higher expectations from a 4 time mother such as this author--but maybe by her 4th she forgot what a hoo-hah might feel like after the first baby at least. BTW under what reality would anyone let their ALLEGED anonymous sperm donor in the room for the actual delivery?

Then all the little things, the hoe-down (oh so common in LA I'm sure), chasing down the dog which is then basically neglected until it became a convenient plot device again--I don't think locking the dog in the pool room is a reasonable thing to do, sorry. If the author can take the time to tell me what brand of shoes a character is wearing, then surely she can tell me the dog was set up with a sitter and/or some company.

And where is that girl's spine? Pining for a dipwad that leaves her at the altar, then allowing him to waltz in and run over a legal proceeding without have A CLEAR IDEA FIRST just what nasty tactics were to go on. So many allusions to her upbringing and her prior relationship but never was it clear how she changed (or really if she did...)

Oh well, the writing was decent though I felt that there could have been better flow and better ways to move the story along. However I did like enough that I will check out another one of the author's titles-- "Finding Kate Huntly" looks interesting and this title at least shows me the author has potential and is worthy of another chance. I hope.
Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11) - J.R. Ward Ohhh Myyyy.... Angsty love is angsty love, gender doesn't matter to me. JRWard brought her game but I think it's safe to say that she isn't writing straight up 'paranormal romance' or 'fill in the blank' romance. Definitely edging closer to the urban fantasy with long story arcs and multi book plot lines... but with too much of HEA to fit the UF genre exactly either. In other words, perfect.

As for the m/m sex, a little less details than she gives for the m/f, but I kind of feel like she threw a lot of m/m in for such a mainstream book. Some will complain at the lack of details (and lube, and prep work) but ya know what, so what. The story is the story, porn is not the story (yes, this is my Vampire Porn series of choice) and I'm just glad she went there at all in her big time book. Open a few eyes and left a little more to the imagination I suppose.

Anyway, If anyone new to these books is actually reading my sure-to-be-buried review, do NOT start this series with this book. Start at the beginning, read all the way through and make sure you include the Insider's Guide in there after book 5 or 6. Take your time and avoid the urge to devour as fast as possible. These are better with a little slow savoring.

As for the chuckleheads who only complain about price, well too whatevers. If you don't like the price then don't buy it. Piss on Penguin all you want. Good luck with that. (and for the record, Penguin really doesn't get too much of my business, but I'm rating the book not the business model).
Kiss an Angel - Susan Elizabeth Phillips I enjoyed this book as one that fits the 'man who sees the light and grovels' after being a dumbass and prejudging. I actually ignored the Hobbit on blu-ray to finish this up, I was so sucked into the story.

I only don't give 5 stars as it was very 1990s (which makes sense as that was when it was written) vs. 2010s. I usually can't stand the heroine who forgives too easily and really this one did. By 1990s it was a backbone she had but with my more modern sensibilites there was a bit too much of the control/domestic manipulation that she fell for (really, he threatens to go to her job site 'and make her job go away' so she will have to come back to him--that was distasteful to say the least, but for this story it was tolerable). Technically I would also have to say the father was engaging in a bit of the sexual exploitation and borderline human trafficking (if it hadn't been her father 'arranging a marriage' it sure would have felt like that vibe).

Again, I just had to turn back my clock to the 1990s and it was easy to stifle these feelings and actually jump into the story. A few silliness things (what up with the cigarrettes and the psychic links randomly happening) but again...it just worked for me.

So read it with your 1990s glasses on and expect an admittedly fluffy plot line and enjoy!

Muzzled - June Whyte By three stars I really do mean "I liked it" in the goodreads sense and it'd be 4 stars on Amazon. I love the stuff about greyhouds and I really WANTED to LOVE it, but it just wasn't quite that riveting.

It's a fun, light read but it failed my 'can it keep me absorbed test'. I kept setting it down to do other things (vs the book I read after it that I kept shushing the family so I could keep going and ignored the Hobbit on blu-ray).

Basically a first person narrative from an Australian greyhound trainer who has a mystery on her hands. The pacing was a bit off and it depended a bit on things like a conveniently forgotten piece of paper in a pocket and delayed phone message type of stuff. Plus the heroine is one I sometimes want to slap silly for not keeping the police better informed.

There is lots of promise and with a few more books under the author's belt I can see a lot of enjoyment. I do plan to keep reading the series and will hope for some improvement (is it a greyhound book, is it a murder mystery, is it a comedy, is it a hawt romance--not that there can't be elements of various genres, but this one could use a little more focus and pacing).

In any case, I recommend it to anyone who likes greyhounds or is otherwise interested in a light read. I would also recommend downloading a sample from Ammy or doing a quick look to make sure the style is one you will find fun.

The River Beach - Holly Bittle Yikes on the Kindle sample...and the interaction at Aunt Ammy by author and spouse, whew. Pass with a capital P. BLECK.
The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training - Dawn Dais Complete 'meh'. Granted some of my issues were that it was published in 2006ish, but really, a walkman?

Even taking into considerations regarding listening devices, a book like this for the complete neophyte should have more specific and better advice on the so-called 'covered' topics. Not so much really good advice, like bras for instance--basically buy a bunch and pick one that works. How about something more specific with ideas on WHERE to find a good bra. Shoe advice was even worse, basically go to a shoe store and listen to the salesman. Um, sure, as long as you make sure it really is a REAL running store. The advice given was vague enough that I'm not sure everyone would get that.

As for her tongue-in-cheek cynicism it got old real fast. A little is funny but too much and it was a drag of a whine fest. Add all that to a really vague training program and all that I can say is that this was pretty unsatisfactory in terms of time spent.

Just my opinion and I know others found it hilarious...just not me.

Bodyguard - Jennifer Ashley I had this one on my long list of cheap Kindle buys and finally blew the dust off and read it. I hardly ever read a series out of order but I fully expected to not want to invest in the whole series, so I started with this shorter, cheaper book/novella featuring my favorite flavor of shifter--a bear.

Wow is all I have to say...it's a great read and far better written than my usual shifter-porn pile of reading. What a great surprise and it has done the ultimate job in that I am now getting ready to read the series in order. Pretty amazing as this was just supposed to be a bit of paranormal fluff in between reading the latest installments of some of my favorite series I'm working on.

This was really well done-- the details of the world unfolded without the 'internal musing' and 'explaining to oneself' trap so many other books fall into. Plus the female main character stays in character and is worthy of respect (no random falling before the mighty wang of power here....though there is wang action) and a male lead who is just wonderful. It's obvious this was a later installment in a series, but at no point did I feel like I had missing knowledge. Clearly there is more going on but nothing to detract from THIS story.

Time to check out the rest of the Shifters Unbound and the other series will just have to wait a little longer!


Red Velvet Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swensen)

Red Velvet Cupcake Murder - Joanne Fluke Another nice entry for the Hanna Swenson mysteries that I enjoyed. Very light, fluffy reading that makes me want to bake (!).

Seriously though, Hanna needs to get off her rump and cut the loser cop loose. He may be hot but he doesn't love HER, he loves what he wants her to be like and has too much of that controlling vibe. To Hanna's credit she doesn't let him get away with it, but enough already. Lose him.

And, if she's too dumb to see it, she needs to let Norman loose too so he can be appreciated for all his fine qualities--like love, loyalty, respect for who she is, fun etc. If it's not enough for her then move on...This is one of two series that has this ridiculous triangle thing going on (yes SP I'm looking at you...again the loser cop who wants to control/change and not love you how you are...sound familiar???).

Other than that, I can count on this series to be a fine, light, enjoyable read worth picking up after something 'heavier'. Unfortunately I think I gained 5# just by reading it, and I didn't even make any cookies.
Romantic Interlude (Talking Dog, #3) - Shelley Munro Silly entertaining series.
Fancy Free - Shelley Munro Light and fluffy and surprisingly better than expected. The h ended up with a backbone that so many so-called heroines/main characters don't actually possess (despite protestations to the contrary). She even had a skill set that was utilized. Really utilized.

Don't get me wrong, this is a hot and sexy read with a bit of plot, a group of villainous sorts and an easy to solve near mystery. However, it all worked as background noise and I found this a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Time to get the next one in the series (and check out the related series). Fun!
Jungle Freakn' Bride - Eve Langlais Oh brother--yet another supposedly feisty female (newsflash, just saying someone is strong doesn't make it so...) adamantly telling herself she'll stay strong but who caves in into being a simpering pile of spineless goo with open legs. 'Oh, my inner jaguar knows they need a strong mate, yet I still will beg for their hoo-hoo getting shoved in to my hoo-ha, preferable both at once'..or words to that effect.

I suppose the point is to show the mating hormones are overriding, but it gets tiresome to read. How about someone who says 'well geez, this is an odd situation, but hey I think I'll enjoy myself'.

How lucky she is the jungle dudes decide to 'allow' her to have some freedom after all. Oh, and 'give' her a credit card to spend how she wants. How fucking patronizing. Especially as she claims not to be a whore to be bought by baubles. Apparently it takes a penthouse suite with a large shower and an unlimited credit card.

In general I like this series but I'm so tired of the 'strong female' getting controlled by and dictated to by her supposed mates. What happened to love and being a team? Give and take? Or, how about a strong character who actually is strong by her actions and not by just a character profile description? Not one who declares something must be done and then caves.


On the plus side the world of this series is getting more interesting and the writing is getting better. I was not nearly so annoyed with the two 'h's of the last couple books.

I'll not write off the series yet based on this particular 'heroine'...but if this devolves into the 'must give up my alleged-spine and give in to the man/men who feel they have the hormone-driven right to control my access to friends/family/work/self esteem', well, no thank you.
Covert Desires (Alpine Woods Shifters, #5) - Sondrae Bennett Her writing is getting better and tighter--this was just a very nice story to read without the new writer sloppies. 3000ish locations, and a light read in a good world view setting...happy with the trend and looking forward to the next one. The promise shown in the first few books is definitely being borne out. Good stuff!
Forgiveness - Allyson Young I was sooo in the mood for "The Big Misunderstanding", followed by groveling and redemption and some kink.

Instead, I get stalkerish-controlling behavior with a side of brainwashing. Really, 'have her put on a leave of absence from work' when she wants to return to her job? (After already turning down a fabulous promotion for the men's sake...and what employer would allow this????)

Take away access to clothing and her phone? 'Spoil' her with good treatment while controlling her every move? Oh, and lets not forget the shaving of her curls to allow better access--curls she grew back and told them she wanted to keep.

Sounds like a classic domestic abuse situation. The "she's so wrong not to forgive us so we'll make her come back" vibe.

Indeed the so-called groveling fell a few quarts short on the mea culpas.

The roots of a good story are there but the execution is so stilted and stunted all it came off as a hot mess of ick-factor.

Add a not very sophisticated writing style and this title now has a privliged membership in my "Utter Crap" collection.

Undone by Her Tender Touch - Maya Banks Inaccurate portrayal of what the 'morning after' pill's mechanism of action is...otherwise enjoyable read!
Wanted by Her Lost Love - Maya Banks Needed more groveling on his part. But reallly...an eclamptic seizure and her doctor didn't deliver her once she was stable??? Yikes!
Best Chicken Breeds:  12 Types of Hens that Lay Lots of Eggs, Make Good Pets, and Fit in Small Yards - R.J. Ruppenthal The author gives us a brief on what characteristics make a great bird for a small backyard flock. As he points out, all this information is available for free on the internet (and he gives his sources), HOWEVER he brings the information together in one short, sweet bundle. I can attest to his information as I also slogged through hours of research and found the same short list of birds as my top candidates for when I can get a small flock started.

Basically the criteria are which birds are superior layers, have friendly personalities and/or are QUIET (and he points out the quietest ones--yay!), and which ones are suited to the more confined areas of a backyard run and coop. These are the criteria for what I'm looking for as a prospective chicken owner (next year) and I want layers that like the backyard, that like me, and are the least likely to bug my neighbors. My husband is hoping for brown eggs.

This little book does a great job in describing 12 breeds that suit these criteria and gives little tidbits of other useful facts like size, history and egg colors.

I found my top candidates on the list, which confirms the slogging I've done on the internet for hours using many of his resources but also chat boards and whatnot from 'real' owners.

In other words I could have saved myself a lot of time by reading this book first, and with a very reasonable price, I highly recommend purchasing this first so you can narrow your focus.